Vine Rangers, a startup based in California that will soon be coming to Fargo, received a Section 333 FAA exemption last Friday – making it one of only 16 companies in the nation using drones for precision agriculture to receive an exemption to date. With it, they are now able to legally fly drones and charge for the service.

Vine Rangers lands FAA exemption

Vine Rangers lands FAA exemption

“Whereas before we could only fly as a hobbyist, we couldn’t charge for services or really add a lot of value in terms of data. We were just stuck,” said Vine Rangers founder and CEO, David Baeza. “Now with the exemption we can operate like a legitimate company.”

The FAA exemption comes at the hands of Lisa Ellman, President Obama’s former law student and the current leader in drone policy-making, and her team at McKenna Long & Aldridge.

Vine Rangers via Fargo

Baeza and Ellman met after a series of fortunate events, and the story starts in Fargo. On May 30, 2014, at the Misfit Con held annually here in Fargo, Baeza spoke publicly about Vine Rangers for the first time. That lead him to Greg Tehven, who lead him to John Werner, who asked Baeza to speak at TEDxBeaconStreet last November. It was there that he first met Ellman, and the two began working to get Vine Rangers an exemption.

They sent a petition in January, 2015. Last Friday, on April 17, 2015, Vine Rangers officially received the FAA exemption.

Vine Rangers FAA exemption

Image taken from

The timing, Baeza said, couldn’t be better.

“Spring is upon us,” he said. “The vines are all popping. We need to get in the air.”

Fortunately, now they can. They can also put up pictures and video of them flying their drones, media that beforehand could never be released. (Now we can include this neat video of what Vine Rangers does!)

As for the move to Fargo, Baeza said they are currently speaking with American Crystal Sugar and look forward to seeing what comes next.

“It’s exciting,” he said. “It’s time to fly!”

Photos courtesy of Vine Rangers.

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Marisa Jackels