This contribution discusses assets and limits of the local/territorial level as a core level to improve the sustainability of agriculture. The focus is on the issue of rural landscape maintenance through farming. Some possible institutional solutions to overcome the difficulties of family farms are examined. New institutional settings such as the "local group", constituting an interface for the negotiation among different local stakeholders, seem to effectively facilitate the stipulation of local contracts for landscape management. The participation to these contracts requires a change in farmers' identity and a more general re-conceptualization of agricultural and environmental problems as community problems.