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As their grain growing counterparts in the Wheatbelt struggle through one of the toughest periods in history, a perfect storm of endless red tape, loss of confidence and labour competition from the resources sector has spread across WA's north and devastated the once thriving live export industry.

Eighteen months since footage of mistreated cattle in Indonesian abattoirs changed the way Australia's live export industry operates the fallout continues to be felt across the sector.

The new Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System regulations, applying to all Australia's live export markets, have tightened Middle East opportunities while cuts to Indonesian import quotas has also had a devastating impact on WA producers.

Thousands of sheep and cattle bred specifically for overseas markets are stranded on overstocked properties across northern Australia, creating animal welfare issues and leaving producers significantly out of pocket.

Several cattle and sheep station owners contacted by _The Weekend West _ who were close to leaving the industry or already had properties on the market were reluctant to speak about their plight.

At least 20 stations across the Mid West and Kimberley have been put up for sale recently, including Mt Elizabeth Station, Mt Vernon, Hillview, Marymia, Mileura and Balfour Downs.

Pastoralists and Graziers Association of WA president Rob Gillam said there were many cattle families hurting across WA and he suspected most would leave the industry, given the chance.

"If you rang up 10 stations, I'd be very surprised if at least five of them were not interested in selling," he said.

Australian Livestock Exporters Council chief executive Alison Penfold hoped new markets in Egypt and Iran were not far away but stressed the delays in red tape and dealing with governments at both ends were taking its toll on producers.

Walkaway sheep farmer Michael Trant, who organised last November's live export rally in Fremantle, has two of his three properties on the market because of uncertainty in the export industry.

Animal welfare, along with not enough feed and holding areas, has become a big issue on his overstocked properties and he was recently forced to sack seven workers.