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Story #28Simmons CatfishYazoo City, MS

My parents taught me to take pride in what you do and pay attention to details. Make that extra little effort to do a quality job. Do it right, not just what it takes just to get by.

Catfish is a time-honored Southern favorite. It’s affordable, heart-healthy, and really versatile. Whether it’s fried, baked, grilled, or broiled, catfish isn’t just delicious or trendy. It’s also good business. Just ask Harry Simmons, Jr.

Harry Simmons has been a catfish farmer for more than 30 years. From his home and farm in Yazoo City, Mississippi, Simmons Catfish produces simply the finest catfish in the country.

Like so many of his neighbors in the Mississippi Delta, Harry Simmons has farming in his blood. After his years in college and the Army, Harry came back to his family farm in the early 1970s. He started out growing vegetable crops, but felt the operation needed diversifying—something to provide a little insurance against a bad harvest. Looking around, Harry decided he had some rich, aquifer-laced land that was better suited to raising fish than growing soybeans or corn. Fish farming was in its infancy back then, and Harry was at the forefront.

Harry built the first pond in 1976. The Simmons processing plant came along around 1982. Today, Simmons Catfish grows fish on more than 5,000 acres and the plant employs around 250 people — most of them Harry’s high-school friends or their children. Harry is deeply proud that his operations employ so many of his friends and neighbors, so “they can have a good job and still live here where we grew up.”

There’s a sign on the wall that says “Quality is everybody’s business.” If a customer is willing to spend hard-earned money on Simmons Catfish, Harry wants to make sure it’s really good. That’s why Simmons Catfish uses environmentally sound farming methods and incredibly meticulous processing. The company ensures quality by adhering to extremely high standards, all the way from the ponds to the delivery trucks.

Harry’s daughter, Katy Simmons Prosser, has been working with him for several years now. Drawing upon her culinary background and deep roots in the family business, Katy represents the future. Although 64-year-old Harry has no plans to slow down, he says, “I hope that I’ll be able to teach her well enough that she can take what we’ve started and continue on.”

Photos by Christina Clusiau

  • Simmons Catfish owner, Harry Simmons, started farming cotton and soybeans in 1974. He took a leap of faith two years later and decided to pursue catfish farming. Over 30 years later, Simmons Catfish has grown into one of the most well-respected catfish suppliers in the country.

  • Anna Jones has been working at Simmon's Catfish Processing Plant for over 20 years. Because of her dedication and hard work, Simmons honored her by naming the plant's filet parlor, "Anna's Filet Parlor".

  • The employees of Simmons Catfish are no strangers to Yazoo City, MS. "The people that work here are people that I went to high school with or children of people that I went to high school with," says owner, Harry Simmons. He is proud to provide an opportunity for his community to earn a living in the place that they grew up.

  • Located in the heart of the Mississippi Delta, Simmons Catfish is the definition of quality. Owner Harry Simmons founded his business on the idea that one should, "take pride in what you do... pay attention to details... Do it right."

  • By 1982, Simmons Catfish had grown so quickly that they decided to build their own processing facility on the farm. This photo of the farm back in 1982 serves as a humble reminder of just how far they have come.

  • While other preparation methods are gaining popularity, fried catfish remains a popular staple that continues to define the Mississippi Delta.

  • Simmons Catfish is the second largest employer in Yazoo City, MS. With a dedicated staff of 250, nearly 60 employees have been with the company for 20 years or more.

  • Simmons Catfish's attention to detail sets it above the rest. Every step of the Simmons process is immaculate and far exceeds industry standards for cleanliness and quality.

  • Owner Harry Simmons doesn't sugar coat what it takes to be a small business owner. "It's a lot of work. It's a lot." But he says it's all worth it when you're, "just getting things done. When you know you can take pride in getting something accomplished."

  • After over 30 years of business, Simmons Catfish now oversees 5,000 acres of catfish ponds.

  • Rain or shine, Simmons Catfish employees are committed to producing a quality product. "It's a hard job what we do," says owner, Harry Simmons. "But it has its rewards as well."

  • For owner Harry Simmons, the future of Simmons Catfish lies with his daughter, Katy. "I hope that I'll be able to teach her enough," says Simmons, "that she can take what we've... built and continue on if she's driven enough to want to do that."

Business Details

Proprietor: Harry Simmons
2628 Erickson Rd. Yazoo City, MS 39194
PH: 662-746-568 / Website
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