On Sunday night, Barbara Sha Cox, a rural resident and one of Indiana's leading grassroots watchdogs of the larger, confined segments of the state's animal livestock industry, sent out a plea.

The subject line read, "Alert - Need action before 1-10-12 - need lots of comments and calls."

She noted that House Bill 1091 is scheduled for an 8:30 a.m. hearing Jan 10 in Room 156 c of the Statehouse.

"We have deep concerns regarding this bill," Sha wrote.

She forwarded a message from Kim Ferraro, a Valparaiso-based attorney for the Hoosier Environmental Council.

"I am extremely concerned about HB 1091," Ferraro's message read.

"You should know that if enacted, this legislation will have a major chilling effect on the willingness of impacted communities to exercise their legal rights against CAFOs for fear of a SLAPP suit and the real risk of having to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in punitive damages and the defendant CAFO's legal fees."

Ferraro noted Indiana Trial Rules already allow protection against frivolous lawsuits. And, she added "we attorneys are already bound by professional ethics rules that prohibit us from filing frivolous lawsuits."

HB 1091 serves "only to provide further liability protections for industrial agriculture (way more than Right to Farm). Given the significant hurdles already in place that limit the ability of CAFO communities to protect themselves, this is probably the most repulsive, underhanded and unjust piece of proposed legislation I've ever seen."

Sha summed up her plea for action by noting CAFO/CFO setbacks start are measured by measuring the distance from the animal building to the neighbors' homes NOT the neighbors' property line.

"To me," she wrote, "this is a loss of property rights. What if you have a pool, work, fish, garden, or simply want to use your yard for recreation?"

She added that new fertilizer rules, manure may be injected 0 feet setback from property lines. Incorporation is 10 feet. This means that they have 24 hours to disk in the manure after spreading and since many times they spread just before rains it can be much longer period of time for incorporation. There are also times when the manure flows on to the neighbors' property.

Sha ended by noting that Reps. Bill Friend, R-Macy, and Don Lehe, R-Brookston, who are sponsoring the bill, both have or have had interest in a confined animal operation.

NUVO News will follow up with Friend and Lehe.