It's very contentious right now, Emily Oldfield (lead author of the report, and an agricultural soil carbon scientist from EDF) said in an interview.Why it matters: The Biden administration and large swathes of corporate America are increasingly acknowledging the potential of agriculture to reduce and sequester greenhouse gases and carbon dioxide as part of a larger strategy to combat climate change. The potential of agriculture to reduce greenhouse gases and sequester carbon dioxide will not be realized if they aren't trusted or consistent.Green groups call for the USDA to establish standards to ensure clarity in a rapidly changing market. Callie Eideberg is director of agricultural policy at EDF. There's a lot to choose from and USDA needs to take that responsibility.Eideberg said USDA will not likely take action in this area until the latter half of this year or early 2022. She said that it is impossible to predict what role the department will play in the end.How long does a carbon credit last: In order to understand current variability among protocols, it is helpful to consider permanence. This refers to the time that a landowner must commit to storing one ton of carbon dioxide in soil and out into the atmosphere for a credit to be counted as verified.The Nori Croplands Methodology has a 10 year permanence period. It is 30 years under one of the Verras protocols. According to the report, one of the Climate Action Reserve protocols covers 100 years or a portion thereof.How to calculate a carbon credit. Each protocol has its own method of estimating the amount of carbon being absorbed into soil. Some protocols require soil sampling and modeling, while others only allow for sampling or modeling. Some protocols specify how many soil samples must be taken and how often. Others are more specific depending on the report.Oldfield stated that we really want to ensure that a ton CO2 is not a ton CO2.Once this is done, reduce your emissions. The report recognizes that carbon sequestration continues to be an insecure approach to climate change mitigation. While policymakers set standards and finance more research, the authors recommend that credit be used to offset emissions.This report was made possible by a gift from EDF to the High Meadows Foundation for postdoctoral fellowships, and the Bezos Earth Fund.