The EU's protection for smaller farmers against unfair treatment from big retailers is one of the EU's major achievements, Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan was told.

Anthea McIntyre MEP, Conservative agriculture spokesman in the European Parliament, praised the EU's Directive on  Unfair Trading Practices when Mr Hogan made his final appearance to take questions from the parliament's Agriculture Committee before the new College of Commissioners is formed.

She said she championed small farmers and small business, and noted: "Most farmers are small businesses and minimising the administrative burden on these SMEs is vital. 

"Margins in the agricultural sector are small and extra costs threaten the survival of some small farming operations.

"Technological advances in agriculture can make farming more productive and more sustainable. I believe Europe should be the world leader in agricultural technology, in innovation and sustainability.

"It is so important that agri-tech solutions work for small growers as well as large-scale producers. We have to ensure that the benefits of new technology and innovation are available to all our farmers, large and small, conventional, organic or otherwise. "