As a consequence of the ‘greening’ process of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) the demand for evaluation of actual agri-environmental measures (AEMs) calls for a deeper analysis of this policy instrument implementation. The idea behind this paper is that farmers’ willingness to participate is a necessary but not a sufficient condition in explaining the AEMs local uptake. Specifically, we test whether AEMs adoption depends both on farms and farmers’ characteristics, and on the local political and institutional framework, as well. Discriminating between genuine farmer incentive and attitude towards AEMs from the role played by the local institutional environment, appears a crucial step toward a better understanding of agri-environmental schemes. Empirical evidence conducted on the ‘universe’ of AEMs eligible farms located in Lombardy region gives substantial support to this hypothesis.