Professor Alan Swinbank at City University Food Symposium, December 2015

Emeritus Professor of Agricultural Economics

School of Agriculture, Policy and Development, University of Reading
Earley Gate, Whiteknights Road, Reading RG6 6EU, United Kingdom

Contact me at:
a.swinbank@reading.ac.uk OR

After school in North Manchester I worked as a farm labourer in Surrey for a year before university. I studied at the University of Reading (BSc Agricultural Economics), McMaster University (MA Economics), and the London School of Economics and Political Science (PhD Economics, University of London) where the late Tim Josling was my PhD supervisor. I then worked for four years as a junior administrator for the Commission of the European Communities in Brussels, in DG VI (the Directorate-General for Agriculture). I returned to the University of Reading in 1977 as a lecturer in Agricultural Economics, and was appointed to the chair in Agricultural Economics in 1988. Although I ‘retired’ in 2008, I am still actively engaged in research. I am also available to undertake consultancy projects.

Current research preoccupations include:

  • Exploring the UK’s agricultural and trade policy options following the country’s referendum vote to leave the EU (Brexit)
  • CAP ‘reform’
  • British perspectives on the GATT Article XXIV negotiations associated with the first EEC enlargement
  • Understanding the influence of the GATT and the EEC on successive UK governments’ farm policy deliberations in the 1960s & 1970s


My research had focussed on the farm, food and biofuel policies of the European Union (EU), particularly its common agricultural policy (CAP), and the process of trade liberalisation in these products under the auspices of the WTO (World Trade Organization). And then came Brexit, and the need to address the UK’s revised trade policy options. I have written, lectured and advised extensively on these topics. More recently I have been reviewing the UK’s agri-food trade policy choices of the 1960s and early 1970s.

I have undertaken work for the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations), the Commonwealth Secretariat, ICTSD (the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development), IFPRI (the International Food Policy Research Institute), and various UK government departments including Defra and Dfid. I have spent time in Albania and Cyprus, and been an invited speaker at conferences around the world. I have advised (and given evidence to) Select Committees in both Houses of the UK parliament and written reports for the European Parliament.

My first forays into the Brexit debate exploring Brexit’s implications for the UK’s farm and food sectors were in Agra Europe in February 2013 (‘How will a UK exit from the EU impact food and farming?’, Agra Europe, No. 2551, 5 February 2013) and EuroChoices in 2014. As well as further articles (listed under Recent Publications) I spoke on a number of platforms (for example to City University’s Food Symposium on UK, Food and Europe: The food implications of Brexit in December 2015) and gave evidence to several parliamentary committees: on 19 September 2016 to the External Affairs and Additional Legislation Committee of the National Assembly of Wales (submission & video); in January 2017 to the Energy and Environment Sub-Committee of the House of Lords Select Committee on the European Union (transcript); and in August 2017 to the Trade Sub-Committee of the Australian Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade for its enquiry into ‘Australia’s trade and investment relationship with the United Kingdom’ (submission 18 and transcript).


Last updated 18 March 2024