This article seeks to analyze relevant federal public policies in Brazil related to soil and water conservation in order to extract the key lessons learned upon its implementation to support the participatory formulation of the National Plan for Soil and Water Sustainable Management. The policy analysis was made based on six strategic axis: Legislation, Prevention, Conservation, Recovery, Monitoring and Integration. These analyzes results aim to contribute to subsidize the Plan construction and identify instruments to increase the use of soil and water resources efficiency in agricultural production according to the different environmental, social and economic conditions of the country’s regions. Seven public policies were selected, characterized and analyzed. The results showed that none of the analyzed public policies are taking enough actions to accomplish with the six strategic axis for soil and water sustainability. These gaps were detected and described as opportunities to be considered under the new national policy framework. The needs for greater involvement of civil society and other relevant stakeholders on policy design and decision making as well as integration among federal ministries were also identified. In conclusion, it is suggested that the new Plan should be designed under a decentralized and participatory process to effectively gather engagement and stronger commitment from governments and other strategic stakeholders in public decisions towards soil and water sustainable management in the agriculture, thus contributing to sustainable rural development.