The current Swiss direct payment system has reduced some negative side effects of agricultural activity. However, it appears that efforts to preserve our natural resources still need to be stepped up. From the farmers’ point of view, with the agricultural policy reforms and the stronger focus on environmental services and environmental protection, the administrative burden has steadily increased and is generally regarded as too high. It is therefore necessary to find ways of simplifying the existing system without fundamentally changing the objectives. Cost-effective instruments that deliver reliable, reproducible and controllable results could provide considerable synergies and facilitate the achievement of objectives when implemented in the context of the direct payment system. On the one hand, they measure the performance of agricultural holdings comprehensively and comparably and at the same time verify the plausibility of the data in a cost-effective manner. Aspects of farm advisory services can be meaningfully and comprehensively integrated with a direct payment system. The objective of the project is to investigate the extent to which farm sustainability assessments can be used to make Swiss agricultural policy more effective, efficient and accepted by the population and farmers. On the basis of a detailed analysis of existing sustainability assessment tools, indicator sets and feedback from experts, a targeted concept was developed. This concept consists of two closely related components, both of which are based on a well-founded farm sustainability assessmet: (1) A comprehensive sustainability plan that promotes a sustainable farm business development process; and (2) a clearly defined points system that provides economic incentives for sustainabl farm management.