직접지불제가 우리나라 농정에서 점차 중요한 위치를 차지하고 있다. 배경에는 두 가지 요인이 있다. 하나는 WTO 농업협정에서 허용되고 있는 정책이기 때문이며, 다른 하나는 특정 목적을 실현하는데 직불제가 유효한 수단이 되기 때문이다. 한국 농업은 영세한 규모에, 쌀을 제외한 대부분의 품목의 생산이 부족하고, 구조조정의 필요성이 높다는 점에서 단순한 소득보상이나 생산과 연계하지 않는 방식에는 한계가 있다. 그렇지만 친환경농업을 확산하거나 조건불리지역 농업을 보호하고, 경관을 형성하는 등의 공공재적 분야에는 직불제의 기능이 중요시되고 있다. 농업생산조건이 불리한 지역은 고령화와 과소화, 시장개방에 의한 영향 등으로 농업이 축소되는 과정에 있다. 이러한 지역에서 조건의 불리성을 보전하여 농업을 유지하는 것은 다원적 기능을 확산하는 동시에 지역사회의 존속에 기여하는 효과가 있다. 이러한 목적으로 조건불리지역 직불제가 실시되고 있다. 향후 시장개방 등에 의해 지역 간 격차가 확대되는 상황에서 조건불리지역 직불제의 역할은 중요하다.이 연구보고서에서는 조건불리지역 직불제의 실태에 근거하여 제도의 효과와 문제점 등을 파악하고, 농업인을 비롯하여 행정 실무자, 전문가, 관련단체 등의 의견을 반영하여 정책효과를 제고하는 개선방안을 제시하고 있다. 이를 통하여 조건불리지역의 농업 유지와 다원적 기능 확산을 도모하고자 한다. The purpose of the study is to propose a way to reform the direct payment scheme on less favored farming areas to improve the policy effect on maintaining farming activity and on expanding the multi-functionality of farming in less favored area. The suggestion for reform incorporates various opinions from farmers, researchers, policy administrators, related associations and others. Considering it has been six years since Korea started the direct payment scheme on less favored areas, we believe it is about time to gather up the problems associated with the scheme and run an interim evaluation. As is the case in the EU and Japan, direct payment is not a free lunch but should be a conditional payment with cross compliance. To conduct an interim evaluation, it is necessary to run a careful survey on how much the scheme is strict as well as practicability of on-site inspection of cross compliance. We also need to verify the relevance of policy beneficiary, unit price of payment, village common fund, and its relation with another direct payment schemes and farmland act. The survey was fulfilled for randomly chosen 1 or 2 Eup or Myeons (Eup or Myeons are subdivisions of a county) and villages from 6 counties in 5 different provinces. We selected 6 counties where the direct payment on less favored areas is pretty common. The list of inquiries includes statistics on farming and direct payment in the region, current or future activities using a village common fund, and the problems associated with direct payment scheme. We grouped the issues associated with the direct payment scheme into 7 categories and suggested a reform direction for each issue. They are purpose of scheme, index for determining the beneficiary, administration classification (Beobjungri or Hangjungri), definition of eligible farmland, lease farming, village common fund, and cross compliance inspection. We proposed to include reinvigorating the local economy as well as farming encouragement in the purpose of the scheme. For deciding beneficiary, we might as well consider population density or the decrease rate of population along with the currently used gradient and usage level of farmland. In order to minimize the case where a village with similar conditions is excluded from the scheme, we need to consider changing the administration classification from Beobjungri to Hangjungri. We suggest to include tentatively lease farming in the list of beneficiary eligible for payment. For village common fund, we proposed to widen the scope of relevant use and simplify the procedure. We approach the issue of cross compliance in two directions. One is to reinforce education to farmers to make them better understand the scheme. The other is to increase the labor force running the scheme at Eup or Myeon offices. As the multi-functionality of farming in less favored (mostly hilly) areas is emphasized for environmental and natural resource values, direct payment in less favored area sheds more light in advanced countries including EU and Japan. Cross compliance is simplified but reinforced with thought on practical applicability for farmers and officers. When the suggestions we made from the study are incorporated in reforming the scheme, it will make a better contribution in reinvigorating the local economy and encouraging farming while compensating the disadvantages of farming and living in less favored conditions.