BELZONI, MISS. — Catfish, once a food available only to Southerners, continues to grow in national popularity. According to the Catfish Institute, sales of farm-raised catfish reached an all-time record of more than 340 million pounds in 1989. That was up 16 percent from 1988. In 1970, when catfish farming was still in its infancy, only 5.7 million pounds were processed.
Bill Allen, Jr., president of the association of catfish farmers, processors, and feed manufacturers, says the yield from a catfish pond has risen from 2,000 pounds per acre just a few years ago to 3,000 pounds as a result of improved quality control.