This paper identifies the factors that either constrain or facilitate farmer decisions to participate in environmental management practices in Switzerland. Semi-structured inter- views were used to explore participation in agro- environmental schemes (AES) and the application of organic farming (OF) in the north of Switzerland. Seventeen factors were found to influence farmer decisions to participate in environmental management practices, demonstrating that their decisions were not solely driven by economic incentives. Social and political factors, household and individual profile characteristics as well as concern for the natural environment were all shown to affect the way in which farmers made decisions, but financial considerations remained important, suggesting that environmental participation resulted mainly from the need to adapt to recent agricultural policy reforms with associated subsidies. Although policy was shown to encourage environmentally-friendly farm management and the achievement of ecological benefits, there is no evidence to suggest that this reflects a long-term shift in ‘green’ farmer attitudes rather than short-term opportunism.